“When you’re a professional athlete, you’re put on a pedestal, like you have some superpower … so there’s just no time to focus on your mental health.” Larry Sanders.
According to research, five to ten percent of athletes experience stress.
In many cases, sports help manage stress. Sports (and exercise) cause the body to release endorphins. These are the chemicals in the brain that relieve stress. It also reduces the levels of stress hormones, cortisol, and adrenaline.
However, on the other hand, sports can be a source of stress, and when this happens, athletes are reluctant to seek help.
Why Are Athletes Reluctant To Seek Help?
Elite athletes are less likely to seek treatment or support for mental health issues for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:
Mental health and its possible impact on performance are not well understood
The idea that asking for help is a sign of weakness
Fear of getting thrown off the team
Fear of not being able to compete
Although numerous sport organizations worldwide are taking steps to disseminate sport-related health results, there is still a long way to advance the prevention, detection, and early management of mental health issues.
How To Help Athletes Move Forward
Learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable is a part of managing stress.
When young athletes are put under pressure, they are more likely to avoid challenging events and not cope appropriately with stress.
There are a variety of ways we can help athletes move forward:
Recognize how you react to an athlete’s stress.
Consider where the tension is coming from.
Empathy is a great way to start.
Assist them in comprehending their emotions.
Make use of low-risk instructional opportunities.
Assisting them in developing the ability to cope with challenging situations.
Educating them on how to become more self-aware of their feelings and ideas
Recognizing their feelings
Encourage the athlete to think about what they are doing.
Posing queries such as,
“What did you do the last time you were stressed?”
Is there anything else you can do?
What do you think your sports hero would do if they were in a tense situation?
It might be beneficial to get athletes to consider what has worked for other athletes and what they have done in the past.
Encourage athletes to solve problems by asking questions.
These are just a few things that will point you in the right direction in helping your athletes.
Next week – Part 4 of 4– Strategies To Deal With Stress Effectively
If you are struggling with a mental health issue or need someone to talk to, Let’s Connect at drdcoffey.com/mentalhealth